Back To School: School Violence

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Last Updated: Monday, July 26, 2010

According to the Florida Department of Education, most schools are safe, but youth violence is on the rise. As a parent or caregiver, there are steps you can take to help keep your child safe at school.

1. Request a copy of the school handbook that contains school rules and regulations.
2. Be sure you understand what the behavior rules are in your child's school, find out what the punishments are for breaking the rules, and review these with your child. For example, what is your school's definition of a weapon and what happens if a child is caught with a weapon in school?
3. Find out if your child's school keeps track of:

  • Students who skip school or miss classes.
  • Complaints by children of being bullied on school ground bathrooms or on the way to and from school.
  • Disrespectful behavior toward the teachers.
  • Increasing rates of stealing and vandalism of school property.
  • Small groups of students who always seem to be angry or cut off from other students.

4. Don't worry alone. Talk with other parents. Organize a parent group with the goal of creating a safe school. Talk to your school principal and offer help.
5. Talk to your children regularly. Ask them if they are worried about their safety. They will often have valuable ideas and suggestions.
6. Find out who is supposed to be at your child's school for supervision before and after hours. This is important to know if your child is going to school early or staying there late.
7. Is there a security system at your child's school? How are visitors handled? How are doors to the outside controlled?
8.Talk to your children about being aware of strangers on school grounds or in school hallways.
9. Find out if staff members in other organizations in your community, such as libraries, community centers, places of worship, and recreation centers, are also concerned about violence. What programs do they offer that you could work with them to improve school safety?
10. Ask other parents who are worried about safety in schools to contact you, or make an announcement at a community or school board meeting.
11. Talk to your child about how to handle anger and problems with others. Talk with your child's teacher, school counselor, or school principal about ways to make this part of classroom lessons.

* In a recent code of conduct issued by the Norfolk Public Schools, the following were considered weapons: knife, razor, ice pick, explosive, sword, cane, machete, firearm, look-alike toy gun, mace, pellet or air rifle pistol, or other objects that reasonably can be considered a weapon.

Source: Florida Department of Education